Both sides need to ‘remember with’ the past rather than ‘remember at’

Letters to Editor
Letters to Editor

Nationalists (in the sense of those with an exclusive love for their little patch), whether of the republican sort or of the unionist sort, have difficulty with “remembering with” in contrast to “remembering at” to use Cillian McGrattan’s distinction (Comment, March 3).

To have invited the Queen to Dublin’s “1916” centenary remembrance would have required a remembering with rather than remembering at.

And so a remembering not only of the insurrectionists but also of the men of the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police who were shot and, also, those of the British Army, including the soldiers of the Irish Regiments, involved in regaining the buildings in the centre of Dublin taken by the insurrectionists.

And remembering with that would include a remembering of the Irish contribution to the making of the British Empire and the Irish benefitting from it.

And a remembering, too, of the horrors of Irish potato famine, and along with that a remembering of the conditions in which English children worked in the coal mines at the time – and the efforts and campaigns by good people to secure relief for both.

Such remembering with could lead to noticing that the motto carried by the Crown is written in Norman French, and with that (what is much needed in Ireland) remembering both the geographical lands that make for England and Ireland were subjected to a Norman conquest, England first and more ruthlessly and effectively: conquests that were all part in the making of a Western Christendom and bringing in the Britannic islands, mostly forgotten in today’s factions of the Church.

Similarly a remembering with the beginning of Ulster’s recent “troubles” would be with a remembering that bigotry and discrimination was two way: not one way as some would have us believe and apologise.

The condition of Northern Ireland then was that for the most part unionist (Protestant controlled) controlled councils favoured their supporters and nationalist (Roman Catholic) controlled favoured their supporters.

A remembering with, might also lead further to a remembering of how successfully Dublin at the time forgot (in the triumphalism of the “1916” fiftieth celebrations) and succeeded in having others forget, an outcome of the Lemass visit to Belfast in 1965 (to show London he was not really a die hard republican): he secured a generous free-trade agreement to help the Republic’s economy and farming subsidies to assist its ailing cattle industry.

What is the diversion (even to the closing of Dublin churches on Easter Day) behind trumped up, not remembering with but remembering at, centenary celebrations?

W A Miller, Belfast